Whitehorse Daily Star

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Offender can become productive citizen: judge

A Whitehorse man has been sentenced to a nine-month conditional term and two years’ probation for a drug offence and three weapons-related charges.

By Gord Fortin on February 4, 2019

A Whitehorse man has been sentenced to a nine-month conditional term and two years’ probation for a drug offence and three weapons-related charges.

George Dawson, 26, was sentenced Friday by deputy Judge William Digby. The sentence covers four offences:

• possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking;

• two counts of possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes; and

• possession of a prohibited weapon.

Crown prosecutor Susan Bogle and Dawson’s lawyer, Amy Steele made submissions.

Bogle told the court that Dawson was found with 24 packaged baggies of marijuana when his vehicle was stopped by the RCMP on Oct. 31, 2017. The total amount of the drug weighed approximately 93 grams and was valued at an estimated $720.

Dawson was found with a pair of brass knuckles in his pants pocket and a collapsable baton near the driver’s seat of the car he was driving. Police also found multiple cellphones.

Bogle argued that the drugs, weapons and phones indicated Dawson was operating a small-scale drug distribution operation.

“It can be described as making an easy profit,” Bogle said.

She argued that trafficking in northern community is considered aggravating. This is because northern communities are smaller with less support, she said. She conceded that marijuana is a soft drug, but stated that does not change the facts.

Bogle argued the two weapons are aggravating, as the brass knuckles were concealed and the baton was easily accessible.

As for mitigating factors, she said Dawson is a young man with no criminal record.

Bogle felt a three- to six-month sentence would be appropriate, followed by probation. She was also open to strict house arrest.

Steele told the court her client is a member of and is employed by the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

She said Dawson does have some applicable Gladue factors. He was partially raised by his grandparents, who have experience at residential schools, Steele said.

She argued that there is no evidence that Dawson was violent or threatening. Nor is there evidence that he used any of the weapons found by police, the lawyer added.

Steele told the court that Dawson co-operated with police and followed all his bail conditions, which included an 8 p.m. curfew during the initial bail period.

She pointed out he has both family and community support.

“People believe in him,” Steele said.

She argued that a jail term was not needed.

The defence proposed a three-month conditional sentence and two years’ probation. If a conditional sentence was not possible, she suggested a longer probationary period.

Digby asked both sides if the October 2018 legalization of cannabis should play a factor in the sentencing.

Steele felt this was irrelevant because trafficking is still illegal. Bogle agreed, saying this offence dates well before legalization occurred.

After the submissions, Digby said this is a troubling case due to the trafficking and weapons. He felt he had to look at alternatives to jail.

The trafficking offence should get a nine-month conditional sentence, he believed.

As for the weapons charges, the judge felt a two-year suspended sentence would be appropriate.

He explained this should take into account all relevant Gladue issues. It would allow Dawson to serve his sentence in the community and still deter and denounce this type of behaviour.

“I’m satisfied that Mr. Dawson will not be involved in criminal activity in the future,” Digby said.

The judge felt Dawson had learned from his mistakes and seen the errors in his behaviour. He added Dawson should become a productive member of his community.

He explained this means it was not necessary to separate Dawson from society; the probation would have terms to promote rehabilitation.

Digby stated that Dawson needs to make reparations to the community. He said even drugs like marijuana can have a negative effect on the fabric of a community.

Digby imposed several conditions. The nine-month conditional sentence will begin with three months of house arrests.

Dawson will be subject to an 11 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew for the remaining six months.

During this period, he will have to make a reasonable attempt to get a job, remain in the Yukon and perform 30 hours’ community service.

The probation conditions include several conditions similar to the sentence. He will have to perform 60 hours’ community service.

Dawson will be subject to a firearm prohibition with an exemption for sustenance hunting.

He will only be able to hunt to provide food for himself, his family or community. He will not be allowed to have a firearm in his residence, and he can only use non-restricted guns.

Dawson must also be accompanied by someone legally eligible to own a gun.

Comments (7)

Up 13 Down 0

Dan Ariely on Feb 7, 2019 at 7:38 pm

@ Boyd - A Gladue Report program is not necessary. Probation Officers are very well trained to prepare all types of Court reports. They are trained to perform psychological assessments, risk analysis and case formulations so that the appropriate interventions can be determined to address the root cause of crime - personal choice.

Up 10 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Feb 7, 2019 at 10:30 am

I was curious how the courts would deal with private citizens competing with the official government cannabis outlet. Although this case is somewhat unique due to the weapons involvement, he was clearly trying to make some money for himself by selling pot, albiet a small amount. I look forward to future cases to see how the courts consider private sector sellers competing with the government for revenue.

Up 6 Down 4

Boyd Campbell on Feb 6, 2019 at 5:43 pm

To my knowledge there is no Gladue report program in Yukon unless it has been recently adopted. The people are very aware of its existance and content in other jurisdictions so the question is does Gladue affect court decisions in Yukon? It certainly appears that it does from the outside looking in. Maybe someone can shed some light on this.

Up 19 Down 0

Alan Manning on Feb 6, 2019 at 4:51 pm

OK, the judge offers a light sentence and what if reoffending occurs, what will another judge do?

Up 31 Down 5

Guncache on Feb 5, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Partially raised by his grandparents who have experience in residential schools. That'a a vague statement. Not all "first nations" kids went to residential school because there were plenty of them in my classes.

Up 49 Down 2

Drug dealers are victims too on Feb 5, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Trafficking and dangerous weapons charges. What exactly does the Gladue factor have to do with this? Because his grand parents partially raised him. That’s stretching a little. Trafficking in drugs is just a lazy way to make a quick buck. Do the crime, do the time doesn’t mean anything nowadays. The last 3 stories of drugs and alcohol seem to just show who our justice system thinks the victims are.

Up 62 Down 2

Our Justice system sucks on Feb 4, 2019 at 7:06 pm

It must be a real kick in the ass to the police officers who work hard to arrest these POS only to have judges let them go with a slap on the wrist. Guess if it doesn’t affect their family directly it doesn’t matter. It needs to change - nobody want these people walking our streets.

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